This is as genuine as any reality could be. Malaysia is in the watch list of countries with a rising number of mental health patients. According to the psychological experts, Malaysians will face some form of mental health issues during the course of their lives.
The numbers are adding up. 4 out of 10 Malaysians will have this problem and if nothing is done in the near future, that number will continue to increase. A specialist from a renowned medical university stated that the number has been downplayed because of how people perceive mental health.
The stigma that goes with mental health or illness is that a person is perceived to be ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’. Such negativity does not help in any way. In fact, it could mean a lot more other issues like:
The idea here is that such conditions must be accepted and acknowledge. Otherwise, there is no way to treat them. Among the many conditions, depression is perhaps one of the most alarming. According to a report by The World Bank, by the year 2020, it is predicted that there could be more than 340 million people in the world that could suffer from depression.
There is no denying that mental health conditions are blind and it does not only happen to the weak, lonely or poor. A person who looks happy and jovial could well be having depression issues in his private time. A good example of this is the late Hollywood celebrity Robin Williams who has for much of his career been associated with happy and family-oriented roles.
In a recent survey by the National Health and Morbidity, only about 1.8% of the population in Malaysia have depression but the experts believe otherwise and that it could at least be 10 times more.
The main problem here is that Asians do not like to talk about their issues or problems they are facing. As such, many are suffering in silence. Caucasians on the other hand has no qualms about visiting a psychiatrist. Asians believe that talking about their problems is a form of weakness.
As such, it is almost impossible to know if someone is having this problem by the outlook. Meanwhile, depression is known to be the most disabling disease, according to the National Institute of Health unlike conditions like stroke or diabetes where a patient can get out of.
Like any other form of conditions, the first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem. Then the patient can be treated. Help and support are always at hand. With all that, patients can be restored and lead their normal lives again. Having said that, societal acceptance and empathy would be crucial as well so that the patients can break away from the stigma and the label of being ‘different’.